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whichwolfI was reminded today of one of my favorite stories.  I posted it here years ago and thought of it again today.  Perhaps you have heard it:

There is an old Cherokee legend about a grandfather teaching his grandson an important life lesson. The grandfather explains to the young boy that we all have a battle going on inside of us. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ that live inside us all. One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: ‘Which wolf wins?’

The old Cherokee replied simply, “The one you feed.”

When I was reading my bible study this morning, the author Beth Moore highlighted a part of Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians in which he commends his readers for their faithful service to God and for their love for one another.  Twice in Chapter 4 of 1 Thessalonians, after complimenting the recipients of his letter for how well they are doing, Paul urges them to do those things “even more.”  Beth then suggested that we often find that like builds on like.  Hate breeds more hate, but love also multiplies and expands.  Anger feeds anger, but gratitude brings more thanksgiving.  She said “knowing the propensity of things to grow, which way do I want to go?  “More and more” one direction will force its antithesis into “less and less.”  We get to decide which we want to feed and which we want to starve.”

It seems so very simple, doesn’t it?  Just do the things that are working “even more.”   Choose the unhealthy things less.  Those behaviors which feed your spirit, grow your mind, heal your body: do those things more consistently.  Those choices that sap your strength, damage your body, deplete your energy, bring out your worst: avoid those things and do them less.

Yet it ISN’T simple, is it?  Or at least it’s not easy.  Certainly, if asked, I choose the good wolf stuff…I’m a huge fan of all the stuff on that list.  THAT is the story I want my life to tell.  But the bad wolf often rears his ugly head, particularly when I’m not paying attention and taking care of myself.  The bad wolf seems to be the default mode if I’m not choosing the better way intentionally.

It’s a nice story, but what practical applications can I make?  What habits do I want to cultivate in order to live a life of even more of the good stuff?  As I consider the story once again, I find that these are some of the things that I want to do “even more” in order to feed the good wolf:

  • Feed my spirit: Connect with my Creator: daily prayer, worship and thanksgiving, Connect with my Community: time with family and friends, Connect with Creation: notice the beauty around me,  Connect with my Creativity: listen to music, sing songs and play with words through my writing
  • Feed my body: enough rest, consistent exercise, healthy food, lots of water.
  • Feed my mind: read good books, study, pursue challenging teaching and conversation, learn new things
  • Feed His lambs: see the world through God’s eyes, love who He loves, try to be a blessing to someone else, turn my focus outward instead of inward, give myself away.

Philippians 4:8 Living Bible (TLB)                       And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.

How do you feed the good wolf?  I would love to hear your ideas!